The John Report: The WWE Raw Deal 01/26/15

Live from WWE Studios in Stamford, Connecticut this is the Raw Deal for episode #1130. Follow me on Twitter @johnreport.

It was the most unique episode of Raw ever. Instead of a regular broadcast of the show in an arena, Raw in the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut was cancelled due to the fear of a major blizzard in the area. The Governor of Connecticut issued a travel ban on Monday night, so there was no way for WWE to run the show in the arena. Most of the talent is staying in Connecticut until Thursday’s live Smackdown broadcast.

I spent much of today writing other things while thinking about if I should even write about this show, but I figured I should at least give some thoughts on what happened on Raw just because there were some promos. I’m not going to recap interviews by going over the details of what they said and offer some brief analysis. I’ll post videos of them, you can watch if you want and I’ll just share some brief comments. Let’s get to it.

The hosts of the show were Michael Cole and Booker T. John Bradshaw Layfield was also there. They started him on the roof to show the snow. Riveting stuff.

They aired the WWE Title match from the Royal Rumble. It was an outstanding match that I rated at ****1/2 out of five and I highly recommend it. You can also read my detailed recap with analysis right here. That filled up about 40 minutes of TV time. It was nearly 25 minutes on the PPV.

Analysis: Some people complained that WWE aired a match that was on the PPV the night before. What else are they supposed to do? If they want to at least try to advance storylines then they have to put something current on there, so it was this match. Maybe it upset fans that ordered the PPV, but it’s not like the winter storm was something they planned. From WWE’s perspective, they can say this is a good way to advertise WWE Network. Some PPV providers were probably upset. If you’re a fan complaining about $9.99 per month you should be glad you get NXT as well as the PPV archive and everything else. It’s still a great value.

Daniel Bryan vs. Kane in a Casket Match was announced for Smackdown.

Analysis: I love Daniel Bryan, but enough with the matches with Kane. That’s three weeks in a row on Smackdown. The Casket Match stipulation is stupid too. Of course I’ll watch, but it’s not that interesting.

Seth Rollins Interview

Seth was holding the Money in the Bank briefcase as he sat down for the interview. I bet he’s getting sick of that briefcase. Rollins said that he deserved to be in the WWE Title match and he proved it with his performance. I agree with that. He’s one of the best wrestlers in WWE, if not the best. They talked about Rollins doing incredible things like the Curb Stomp, the top rope elbow off the top rope through the announce table and then the Phoenix Splash that he debuted in WWE. What was great was that Seth told Cole that it was a Phoenix Splash. That’s when Lesnar broke up the pin and won the match soon after. Rollins said that Lesnar may be the WWE Champ, but what he doesn’t have is the Money in the Bank contract “plan B” and Seth said he’d wait for Lesnar coming up next.

Analysis: Good job by Seth. He lost the match, but he’s still very confident and believes in himself a lot. He’s a very good heel and one of the best performers in WWE. No doubt about that.

After the break, Lesnar walked in with Heyman. Seth just knocked over the chair and left, so a guy set up the chair so Lesnar could sit.

Brock Lesnar With Paul Heyman Interview

Lesnar sat down with Heyman with Lesnar holding the WWE Title over his right shoulder. They started out showing Lesnar beating The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30. Lesnar said he respects nobody and that he’s the beast. Heyman wondered why anybody was surprised by the result from Sunday night. He called Lesnar a once in a lifetime athlete. Heyman said that he says Lesnar’s name in a special way because he’s once in a lifetime. Heyman talked about how Lesnar’s matches are must-see.

The discussion moved to Roman Reigns. Lesnar said he’s happy for him and he hopes he’s up for the challenge. “I’m on a roll baby. I’m like a steamroller. Get out of my way, people.” When Cole asked Heyman if Reigns could beat Lesnar, Heyman said “no.” They asked Cole when he’s talking to Reigns, Cole said later so Lesnar said he’ll stick around so he can “meet this guy.”

Analysis: Lesnar has been back in WWE for three years and he hasn’t met the guy? That’s a bit of a stretch, but Lesnar’s character is that of a loner so he can get away with it. I liked his line about being on a roll and that people should get out of his way. I was a bit surprised Heyman didn’t talk more although when they met Roman later it was mostly Heyman that spoke.

They aired the entire Royal Rumble match in its entirety. Some people told me that they lessened some of the boos for Reigns on the audio of it. I’m not going to watch it to hear it, so I’m not sure if they are right about that. You can also read my detailed recap with analysis right here in case you missed it.

Roman Reigns Interview

Roman Reigns was interviewed by Byron Saxton, who is one of the announcers on Smackdown. Roman said he may not be the most experienced, but he’s not afraid. He told a story about how his father Sika (of the Wild Samoans) taught him to swim by tossing him to the bottom of the pool and he had to learn to swim that way. Good parenting! When Byron asked about the mixed crowd reaction, Roman just said the fans can cheer or boo whoever they want. Same thing Cena has said for years. Not very original.

When Saxton mentioned that critics say that Reigns was just handpicked by the higher-ups, Roman said thanks for the opportunity. Saxton mentioned that Roman had assistance from The Rock and then Roman said that he was family. Roman talked about his father Sika, his uncle Afa, his cousins Yokozuna, Rikishi, Umaga and The Usos as well as The Rock’s grandfather Peter Maivia. Roman said he was born in this business and he was fed in this business. He said he’s looking forward to headlining WrestleMania in front of his father. He’s also looking forward to beating Brock Lesnar and meeting him face to face tonight.

Analysis: The question about being hand picked is silly. That’s not something the average fan knows about. It’s more of a backstage thing. He’s obviously been hand picked in that sense, but so have dozens of wrestlers in the history of the business. I liked that they had him mention his family. I’m surprised it took this long. Talking about his family makes him more relatable and likable. They should have mentioned it a long time ago. Who didn’t he mention? Rosey. That’s his brother. Odd that he wouldn’t mention him. I know that he’s not as big of a name as the others, but that’s his brother.

John Cena Meets Rusev At WWE Fast Lane PPV

They showed the clip from the post show with John Cena doing an interview and Rusev walked into the screen grabbing the microphone. He was ranting. They did a gentle shove, then went face to face. Other wrestlers showed up to break it up. The graphic showed that Rusev vs. Cena is announced for Fast Lane PPV in Memphis on February 22.

Analysis: It’s a big match for a feud that was expected. Most of us figured the match would be for WrestleMania 31. That’s likely going to happen too. This one will probably end in a countout or disqualification to set up the WrestleMania match.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Into WWE Hall of Fame

They aired a video for Arnold Schwarzenegger to be in WWE’s Hall of Fame. He appeared on WWE TV a couple of times, so he is in. I’d complain, but I don’t care enough.

Dean Ambrose was shown arriving to the building. It was just a comedy bit where he told a crazy story about hitchhiking to get there. It wasn’t that funny.

Daniel Bryan Interview

Daniel Bryan was interviewed by Renee Young. It really wasn’t that great. They went over the same stuff they talk about with him from the last year. Bryan just said he felt he let down the fans by being injured. He said after he got hurt, he knew he had to come back and win the WWE Title one more time. When Renee mentioned that the fans were mad about him being eliminated, he said he was disappointed that he didn’t win the Rumble match ever. Bryan said that Lesnar is the ultimate Goliath and he’s the ultimate David, but he failed. Bryan pointed out that Reigns took advantage of his opportunity. He talked about facing Kane in a Casket Match saying that it’s a match that favors Kane, but he’s not going to be denied. Bryan said he’s mad and pissed off. He needs to end this thing with Kane on Thursday.

Analysis: Very basic stuff. I want things to end with Kane too. It’s happened too many times. Move on please.

The advertised main event was Reigns meeting up with Lesnar. They still went past the 11pmET hour to end the show five minutes later. An overrun on a taped show with interviews? It happened.

Roman Reigns Interview With Brock Lesnar And Paul Heyman

Roman and Brock were seated beside each other. Cole tried to start the interview, but Heyman showed up to shake Roman’s hand while telling him that he respected him. Heyman asked if he could handle the interview and Roman said he’s got nothing to hide, so Cole left. Good job Paul!

Heyman told Reigns that he has known Roman’s family longer than Roman knew his family. Heyman said he took pictures of Afa & Sika (Roman’s dad) and he always respected them. Heyman said he took Yokozuna’s first publicity photos, he was managing Fatu before he was known as Rikishi and that’s when he met Jimmy & Jey Uso as kids when they delivered frog splashes. Heyman said that he’s known Roman since he was a little boy in Pensacola when his dad was wrestling in the arenas there. Heyman added that he knew The Rock, but more importantly The Rock knows Brock Lesnar. Heyman reminded Roman that in 2002, The Rock lost the WWE Undisputed Heavyweight Championship to Brock Lesnar. He added that Lesnar was a new guy like Reigns is a new guy. Lesnar was shown sitting in the chair as if he was reminiscing. Heyman added that The Rock didn’t ask for a rematch.

Heyman wondered why The Rock didn’t tell Reigns how tough it was to beat Lesnar. Heyman asked Reigns how he’s going to handle disappointing his family when he loses to Lesnar because he can’t beat Lesnar today or at WrestleMania. He asked again how he will handle the disappointment.

Reigns turned to Lesnar. He told Lesnar he knows who he is, what he is and what he (Roman) has signed up for. Reigns told Lesnar he’s going to beat him at WrestleMania and take that title. Reigns said that if he can’t, then he’s going to take a piece of Lesnar with him. He believes that and so should that.

Lesnar got out of his chair as they stood face to face. They’re about the same height. Lesnar shook his hand. Lesnar: “Unlike him, I don’t respect you.” Reigns: “But you will.” They had an intense staredown.

Analysis: That was really well done. Heyman’s speech was excellent as he tried to make it personal by getting on Roman’s good side in talking about his family and how he knew a lot of them. Then he used that same angle to try to question why The Rock wouldn’t warn Roman about Lesnar. That was brilliant. I liked Roman’s speech too. He didn’t do any stupid nursery rhymes. It was all about looking a man in the eye, telling him you’re going to bring it and then saying that he was ready. Lesnar’s role in it was pretty simple by being a jerk that said he didn’t respect Reigns. That’s a true heel. Reigns ended it by saying that Lesnar will respect him after he makes him. That’s a good way of being a babyface. It was simple and effective. Good stuff by all three guys.

The announce team went over what happened. Booker said that Roman has to step up and JBL said that it was awesome. That was the end of Raw.

Final Thoughts

I’m not going to have the three stars or give it a score although Heyman was a star for kicking out Cole at the end. That will be back next week when it’s a regular show.

Hopefully WWE does more sit-down interviews in the future. They were pretty good for the most part and wouldn’t be a bad way to get a character over during a show.

If you don’t regularly watch Smackdown, you should do it this week because what happens there is probably going to be a lot of stuff that was planned for Raw. It should be an above average show.

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That’s all for this week. Back to normal next week.

Check out my feature column archive that’s exclusive to WhatCulture. I wrote about some positive things we can take from the Royal Rumble and a look at the “WWE 24” documentary about WrestleMania 30 as well.

Thanks for reading.

John Canton – mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

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